But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let these learn first to show piety towards their own homes and to prove their gratitude to their parents; for this is well pleasing in the sight of God. 1 Timothy 5:4
“Paul distinguishes “widows indeed” from “widows” who have living children or grandchildren. He charges the family of these widows to take care of them, based on two principles: righteousness and gratitude.
Paul called upon these families to “practice piety,” drawing upon the verb form of the noun “godliness,” a supremely important word throughout the letter (2:2; 3:16; 6:3, 5-6, 11). The purpose of pastoral ministry and the work of the church is to help its members lead godly lives (1:5), and this includes taking care of their own.
Paul also appealed to them on the basis of gratitude. Children and grandchildren owe their very existence to their parents’ willingness to sacrifice comfort in order to provide for them and protect them. Their mothers, especially, bore them in their bodies and then delivered them through incredible discomfort and pain at childbirth. If the desire to be righteous were not enough, gratitude alone should prompt children to care for their widowed mothers.”
Charles R. Swindoll in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (SLSNTC; Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2014) 106.
In plain terms, generosity must start at home before we export it elsewhere.
God’s righteous design for us as followers of Christ is to care for our aging parents, especially widows. This care is not only the right or godly thing to do, it must abound from a heart filled with gratitude that our parents sacrificed comfort for us as their children. We get to return the favor!
As our own son and daughter are launching as adults, we are turning our attention what assisting our parents looks like. All four, Jenni’s parents and mine, are still living, however, they are not getting any younger.
We’ve watched how our friends have cared for their parents to learn. My close friend, Tom Assmus, moved his mom to be closer to him in Colorado when she was an aging widow. That, in part, inspired me to urge my parents to live closer to my brother in Florida. I offered Colorado, but the weather down there is much more favorable for them. In our case, should something happen to Dad (or Mom), the remaining parent will be close to the oldest child, which means Heather, my sister, and I, will get to sacrifice comfort in other ways to offer assistance. We are also thinking about what this might look like for Jenni’s parents.
Recently, another friend, Chi-Chung Keung, took his mother out to the movies on a date! I saw a cute picture of them at the theatre on Facebook. What a beautiful example of tender loving care.
I am growing convinced that our family relations are the greatest testimony of our faith and the arena where our generosity must be most faithfully practiced. God help us sacrifice comfort to show tender loving care to our aging parents to prove our gratitude.Read more